Category Archives: What to know about China

Happy Fourth of July! And musings on Hong Kong’s recent Independence Day.

I hope you all have fun plans for the Fourth! Here in Hong Kong, today is any other working day…

I had a bunch of morning work calls, have a Dr.’s appt. this afternoon, and then we’re going to a pre-natal class so I’m not feeling particularly festive! Definitely missing / craving a BBQ, some American brownies or rice crispies, and some fireworks!

Last year we did celebrate at our friend K.C.’s rooftop party… I love how she did red, white and blue punch!

She also served drinks in red, white and blue bins… red for Coke and white and blue for water. Isn’t she clever?

We did however have Monday off here in Hong Kong for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day… it’s funny how both of our independence days fall so close together. Traffic over the weekend was disastrous downtown as President Hu was in town, both for the anniversary of the handover (15 years) and also to swear in our new and extremely controversial Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying.

There were giant protests (estimated between 63,000 to 400,000) in Victoria Park… people were protesting Leung in particular for his recently discovered illegal basement in his home on the Peak–lots of Pinnochio signs were present. This new finding is especially ironic as it’s what brought down Tang, Leung’s no. 1 opponent in the race to become Chief Executive–I blogged about that here in “Blame your illegal man cave on your wife“. People also used Hello Kitty in their protests, including a giant pink Hello Kitty protest car (below, upper left)!!! Earlier this month, Leung said he found Hello Kitty stickers on a wall in one of the rooms of his house on The Peak, to prove he was not the property’s first occupant and therefore wasn’t the one who built the illegal structures, and people have been mocking him on the Internet ever since!

People also believe that Leung is an underground Communist party member. He has won favor with some by pledging to increase public housing and pledging to work to address the growing income inequality gap here.

People were also out protesting Hong Kong’s close ties to China. Hong Kong was ranked 80 out of 167 in The Economist’s democracy index for 2011 and classified as a “hybrid regime”. “It is neither one thing nor the other – not yet a democracy, but with some democratic trappings,” wrote the magazine.

Part of the reason people are so upset about Leung taking office is that they didn’t vote for him; Hong Kong’s Chief Executive was voted in for a five-year term by a 1,193 member panel of Hong Kong billionaires, academics and professionals. Of course, Hong Kong does have a well-established rule of law and Beijing has promised to let the Special Administrative Region operate independently… it will be very interesting to see what the next five years bring!

Side note: Missing so many of our friends who are now back in the States, either permanently or for summer holiday!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

China hacking our phone secrets.

Last week wasn’t a good one for my alma mater; “a federal judge convicted Hanjuan Jin, a 41-year-old Notre Dame, Chinese-American alum, of stealing confidential information from Motorola after she was caught carrying a one-way ticket to China, $31,000 and 1,000 Motorola documents (stored digitally.” The article on the Atlantic jokes that Motorola couldn’t have had much to steal to begin with (i.e. the Razr isn’t exactly high-tech), but there’s actually quite a lot Motorla has that the Chinese want. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise as this is why Google recently acquired Motorla… it’s just that they’re interested in platforms not head sets. This isn’t the only report of the Chinese hacking American phone companies; Nortel was also recently hacked.

The Chinese have tried to build their own cellular network, but it’s terrible so they are very much interested in stealing Motorola’s  tower technology, especially China Mobile which has their own 3G standard called TD-SCDMA. It was developed to avoid paying royalties to Western companies. Only problem is that is sucks. It’s 3G service is so bad most people can only access the internet from their iPhones if they’re at a WiFi hot spot! Unlike the US however, numbers don’t transfer over so no one wants to give up their China Mobile number so they so they buy the iphones from China Unicom (pretty good 3G service but crappy voice coverage area) and then use them on CM even though it means they get super slow internet service and basically need to rely on wifi. How crazy is that!! No wonder they’re paying for our secrets!

At the end of the day, I’m not so worried about China overtaking the US… as long as we keep coming up with the ideas and they keep copying, we’ll always be in the lead. BUT we really need some better security. And company’s will have to think long and hard about whether their employees really are trust worthy.

Also, see my earlier post on doubling down on SIM cards. Thanks NYW for the article tip!

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

The Invasion of HK–the Law, Maids, and Locusts.

Eric X. Li wrote a great piece today in the South China Morning Post. It really got to the heart of two of the most controversial issues currently facing Hong Kong: helpers wanting permanent residence like anyone else receives after living here for 7 years and the overcrowding of hospitals due to mainlanders wanting to give birth here because of both the superior medical care and the right of offspring of Chinese (not foreign nationals) to receive Hong Kong citizenship and benefits. These pregnant women are being called locusts by locals wanting to preserve the status-quo. Eric brilliantly captures the tension the city is facing:

A specter is haunting Hong Kong. And it is not communism. It is the sight of undesirable women roaming the streets of this acclaimed world city. They exhibit specific physical attributes. First were the Filipino maids of dark complexion, three-hundred-thousand strong along with the Indonesians. Then came pregnant women from the mainland. Both are making unwanted claims on the good life which Hong Kongers seem to feel is their own and look determined to guard jealously….

….Perhaps it is high time for the people of Hong Kong and its elites to self-reflect. Is the law an abstract principle that exists above and beyond society, like the commandments received by Moses, or an organic part of society at the service of its people? Should politics be conducted based on ideological correctness or pragmatic functionality?

In a healthy and well-functioning polity, practical issues such as immigration can be deliberated and resolved in practical ways. But the state of Hong Kong is such that since 1997 an ideological narrative constructed by a few has been sold to the people of Hong Kong by means of demagoguery. Now the Hong Kong people are in an unenviable quandary: give up on a narrative that has been baked into their self-identity to protect the actual welfare of their society, or hold high that ideological banner and risk their way of life. To do both would be hypocrisy of the highest order.

Just to put my personal view out there: I completely agree with Eric that the maids deserve citizenship after seven years, just like everyone else. I realize that the long-term effect of that would mean that Hong Kongers would have to seriously re-evaluate their maid system and likely be forced to pay more than $450 a month for their live-in, round-the-clock help… but I’m more than okay with that. After seven years of indentured servitude, literally, I believe you’ve earned your freedom. I feel less strongly about mainlanders coming to give birth… I see how that puts a ton of stress on a very good public system, but I also respect that mothers are willing to move countries to ensure a better life for their offspring. I would just point out that it is the rich that are really able to take advantage of this opportunity in the first place.

It’s interesting to me how Hong Kong is adamant about being different than China, but will be a part of her in just 35 years. I wonder how she will go about making the transition… it seems like she will have to become more like China in years to come, but time will tell.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Chongqing Drama.

A good housewife appreciates a bit of drama… and real life drama is far superior to the made-up, gossipy kind… and there is a good deal of Godfather-esque intrigue unfolding in China right now. China’s most famous police chief recently visited an American Embassy, purportedly seeking political asylum. And we know this because, what do you do if one of your citizens tries to seek asylum at an embassy in your own country? You surround the embassy with tons and tons of cop cars and make sure he doesn’t leave.

Wang Lijun, Chief of Chngqing Public Security. Getty images.

So where exactly is Wang Lijun now? No one knows. He could be on vacation, recovering from stress, as the Chinese say… or he could be being tortured underground somewhere. No one knows. But everyone is sure this is a political play related to the upcoming Politburo elections. Wang’s uber-powerful boss Bo Xilai is currently on the 25-member Politburo and is angling for the 9-member Standing Committee this year. Bo is quite controversial; he’s led a crusade of corruption, including arrestings 2,000 gang members in June of 2009, and also has a deep love of Maoist communist ideals and practices, like bringing back ‘Red Songs’ from the fifties. Bo’s father is a party elder–an example of how nepotism is very much a part of China today. Apparently tweets with Wang or Bo were being blocked… until this morning… when people suspect his enemies let them through… I’ll be on the edge of my seat waiting to hear where exactly Wang turns up and enjoying this narrow peak into the mysterious workings of Chinese politics.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Dyeing pets to look like wild animals.

The Chinese are now dyeing their dogs to look like wild animals… pandas and tigers are most popular.

Seriously. It’s just beyond. Just beyond. As reported by CNN.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter